Pickled Grapes

grapes BW

Hot, hot. It’s a dry sauna in here! You could actually fry an egg on the sidewalk. And yet some things, native plants and creatures, thrive in this heat. At the moment, I am functioning with hardly any house-help. Kumari is away (for more than a month now) to her village in Bihar; Babloo, the presswala (for those who may not know, the chap who wields the “press” or iron, to iron our clothes!), also from Bihar, went away for a few weeks to make the most of his children’s summer vacations (he got back this morning!). He was also filling in for Chandu, who comes weekday mornings to wipe down the cars. So, I have had my hands more than full. The gardener, though in town, was a bit down in spirits, and there I was, watering the plants every other scorching evening. Yes, it doesn’t cool down even in the evenings. It become less hot, but never cool, till the monsoons arrive. No wonder we make so much song and dance about the Monsoon Season; yes, it is its own season – Saavan – in these parts, and much celebrated in Indian literature, paintings, and music.

On that first evening when I picked up the hose, I also decided to turn the pots to get even light on the less exposed sides. And, there was this tiny nest in the Ficus in the corner! The mystery of the chirpy sunbirds tailorbirds every morning explained! I rotated the plant back, so that the nest continued to stay hidden. A few days later, I became the anxious “carer” not having spotted the parents birds all afternoon and believing the nest to have been abandoned. I took a peek, and there they were, four tiny hatchlings in the nest! Google came to the rescue as always and I researched on how many hours hatchlings can survive without parent attention. I learned, with a heavy heart, that it is best to leave them alone and not care for them even if they have been abandoned. Ah, but come evening, there she was, the mother tailorbird! All was well after all. I resolved to take no more peeks lest I scare the parents to abandon their babies.

Continue reading “Pickled Grapes”

Blooming Bright

calendula

Modern Western medicine has changed our lives with its clinical approach to diagnosis and treatment of disease. Along the way it became the mainstream approach with older systems getting the tag of alternative medicine. Of course, there are reasons to encourage and protect this mindset.

Practitioners of Western medicine, while finally admitting to the efficacy of meditation and yoga in keeping ailments such as hypertension (and many others) in check, find it difficult to explain how with their empirical scientific methods. Yoga, or homoeopathy also have no negative side-effects. Unlike much of modern medicine. (And you must check out this definition for homoeopathy! Seriously!)

Naturally, the winners of the no-side-effects approach are patients – not drug companies, not insurance companies. Patients find it hard to finance such ‘alternative’ treatments in the current arrangement between medical practice-drug companies-insurance agencies.

nasturtium yellowBri, a fellow food blogger, would like to do just that – explore other “alternative treatments” to fight breast cancer. She has been looking at various options in addition to chemotherapy. Her health insurance, unfortunately, does not cover holistic alternatives which she would like to try. She is going through intensive chemo and other treatments and needs to focus single-mindedly on healing and finding what treatment works best for her.

Jugalbandi, with the June edition of Click, has organised a fundraiser to help Bri finance one year of such treatment that is not covered by her insurance. The theme for the month is Yellow, a colour that has come to be associated with the fight for cancer.

The deadline for participating in Click is June 30, while the fundraiser will continue till July 15, 2008. Details on how to participate and contribute here.

The beautiful flower at the top is Calendula, a popular annual in our winter gardens here. Of course, it is edible! You can use the petals in soups, scrambled egg, or make your own healing balm! And it is my entry for this special edition of Click!

Update, June 16: Flowers, even edible ones, were inadmissible!  The Khandvi picture at the bottom is the Click entry!

fruit sellers
Some more yellow for you.

khandvi

(You want to know how to make this delicious nutritious almost-fat-free snack? Here’s the recipe! 😀 )

A Strange Gourd…

fruit

I have another volunteer in my little patch of green – this time it is a strange little gourd. One time I had Malabar spinach with its rose tinted berries and leaves show up in a corner. No amount of uprooting could remove it – then I discovered I could use it in a Bengali paanch-phoran stir fry in a medley of other vegetables (beans, pumpkin, potatoes…) – yummy.

floweR

Continue reading “A Strange Gourd…”

Lentil Burgers and Flowers Wild

Lentil burger

It’s no secret that I love potatoes. Who doesn’t? And they make a swell burger too. But the veggie burgers my sister used to (have to) eat in the Union cafetaria were not made from potatoes alone. They had many grains and other indescribable things in it. I can’t describe them because I never ate those – there were perfectly good real burgers for me.

But in a family that is 50% vegetarian, real burgers pose a problem. Though the potato based vegetarian burgers I make are a perfectly tasty option that we all love, I was looking for a more meaty texture. After looking at Nandita’s burgers, I decided to finally give lentil burgers a try.

Continue reading “Lentil Burgers and Flowers Wild”